Photo of us spending quality time with the teens –as we took everyone to see Starwars, all of us appropriately dressed for the occasion (back in Dec 2019).
How it all began…
I started writing because my dad got tired of hearing me complain about potty-training toddlers. He suggested I write about it, and I did. I wrote a never-published book called, “The Potty Wars.” The experience was cathartic, but it also awakened in me, a desire to become a writer, to be published and with that, a mommy blogger was born. I wrote humor pieces that never went anywhere. However, in 2005, I became the dog who caught the car when the Washington Post took a humor piece that ran two years later. It made me want to become “a real writer” whatever that means.
Lisa Hendey who ran Catholicmom.com was willing to post my pieces and I flooded her with my stuff and amazingly, she did not get tired of me. Granted, it was a free ministry, but it led to me learning the process and becoming more willing to write about my faith and all the trials that came with being a then young mom of 5, 6, 7. 8, 9…10. I wrote about being a mom of many, about being overwhelmed, and about wondering why God thought this was reasonable.
What I learned is God is not reasonable. God is generous. God is also interested in me becoming less reasonable, more generous.
Every once in a while, I write a piece for her because I was taught growing up, “You dance with the one who brought you.” and she opened doors then and now. It’s a form of giving back, and it reminds me, that writing is first and foremost a ministry –that sharing one’s faith should be a gift, and if you get paid for your words and your witness, that’s bonus.
Now, I find I write a lot more stories about learning how to better love teens. It’s not that different than loving toddlers, except when teens are mad, they take themselves to their rooms. When toddlers were mad, we took them to time out. In either situation, somehow, the mom in me feels like I’ve failed. My heart hurts when I’m at odds, not because I can’t bear conflict, but because I long for genuine peace in their hearts and mine.
With toddlers, I wrote about the isolation of being the only adult in the world. It’s not that different now that most of them are past 12. With toddlers, I could distract with food, play, song, or an errand. With teens, the food and errands sometimes work, but you know peace has returned when they sing.
What I have found is working, is deliberately deciding to look at them really look at them with as much love as I can muster, while listening even if they’re snarling about something. I cannot promise it always works, but it’s rather like praying for change. It may not change them, but it does change us.
Teens, like all of us, need the reassurance that they matter, and that their pain is real, even if we think, they’ll out grow it. That look, and it is a prayer and a deliberate willed attempt to look at them the way we did when they were babies, when we would just feast on their faces, because we thought our hearts would burst if we looked away, it takes the sting out of dealing with dramas that whether big or small, are always present in the process of growing up.
My seventeen-year-old is in the kitchen doing the dishes and belting out Adele. It is sheer heaven and the joy of the sisters in the kitchen laughing hysterically over private jokes makes all the moments when they’re miserable, forgettable in an instant. Joy lingers in a way even what feels like permanent etched to the soul grief can’t.
If you would like to read my tips on parenting such as they are, I can’t promise your kids will do the dishes while belting out “Rumor has it” but who knows? “Helping Your Teens to Know God’s Love.”
Because I still can’t seem to load any new pictures…